Vanity Fair By William Makepeace Thackeray Chapters 61-63

One day Emmy, with George in her hand and clad in deep sables, went to visit the deserted mansion which she had not entered since she was a girl. The place in front was littered with straw where the vans had been laden and rolled off. They went into the great blank rooms, the walls of which bore the marks where the pictures and mirrors had hung. Then they went up the great blank stone staircases into the upper rooms, into that where grandpapa died, as George said in a whisper, and then higher still into George's own room. The boy was still clinging by her side, but she thought of another besides him. She knew that it had been his father's room as well as his own.

She went up to one of the open windows (one of those at which she used to gaze with a sick heart when the child was first taken from her), and thence as she looked out she could see, over the trees of Russell Square, the old house in which she herself was born, and where she had passed so many happy days of sacred youth. They all came back to her, the pleasant holidays, the kind faces, the careless, joyful past times, and the long pains and trials that had since cast her down. She thought of these and of the man who had been her constant protector, her good genius, her sole benefactor, her tender and generous friend.

"Look here, Mother," said Georgy, "here's a G.O. scratched on the glass with a diamond, I never saw it before, I never did it."

"It was your father's room long before you were born, George," she said, and she blushed as she kissed the boy.

She was very silent as they drove back to Richmond, where they had taken a temporary house: where the smiling lawyers used to come bustling over to see her (and we may be sure noted the visit in the bill): and where of course there was a room for Major Dobbin too, who rode over frequently, having much business to transact on behalf of his little ward.

Georgy at this time was removed from Mr. Veal's on an unlimited holiday, and that gentleman was engaged to prepare an inscription for a fine marble slab, to be placed up in the Foundling under the monument of Captain George Osborne.

The female Bullock, aunt of Georgy, although despoiled by that little monster of one-half of the sum which she expected from her father, nevertheless showed her charitableness of spirit by being reconciled to the mother and the boy. Roehampton is not far from Richmond, and one day the chariot, with the golden bullocks emblazoned on the panels, and the flaccid children within, drove to Amelia's house at Richmond; and the Bullock family made an irruption into the garden, where Amelia was reading a book, Jos was in an arbour placidly dipping strawberries into wine, and the Major in one of his Indian jackets was giving a back to Georgy, who chose to jump over him. He went over his head and bounded into the little advance of Bullocks, with immense black bows in their hats, and huge black sashes, accompanying their mourning mamma.

"He is just of the age for Rosa," the fond parent thought, and glanced towards that dear child, an unwholesome little miss of seven years of age.

"Rosa, go and kiss your dear cousin," Mrs. Frederick said. "Don't you know me, George? I am your aunt."

"I know you well enough," George said; "but I don't like kissing, please"; and he retreated from the obedient caresses of his cousin.

"Take me to your dear mamma, you droll child," Mrs. Frederick said, and those ladies accordingly met, after an absence of more than fifteen years. During Emmy's cares and poverty the other had never once thought about coming to see her, but now that she was decently prosperous in the world, her sister-in-law came to her as a matter of course.

So did numbers more. Our old friend, Miss Swartz, and her husband came thundering over from Hampton Court, with flaming yellow liveries, and was as impetuously fond of Amelia as ever. Miss Swartz would have liked her always if she could have seen her. One must do her that justice. But, que voulez vous? — in this vast town one has not the time to go and seek one's friends; if they drop out of the rank they disappear, and we march on without them. Who is ever missed in Vanity Fair?

But so, in a word, and before the period of grief for Mr. Osborne's death had subsided, Emmy found herself in the centre of a very genteel circle indeed, the members of which could not conceive that anybody belonging to it was not very lucky. There was scarce one of the ladies that hadn't a relation a Peer, though the husband might be a drysalter in the City. Some of the ladies were very blue and well informed, reading Mrs. Somerville and frequenting the Royal Institution; others were severe and Evangelical, and held by Exeter Hall. Emmy, it must be owned, found herself entirely at a loss in the midst of their clavers, and suffered woefully on the one or two occasions on which she was compelled to accept Mrs. Frederick Bullock's hospitalities. That lady persisted in patronizing her and determined most graciously to form her. She found Amelia's milliners for her and regulated her household and her manners. She drove over constantly from Roehampton and entertained her friend with faint fashionable fiddle-faddle and feeble Court slip-slop. Jos liked to hear it, but the Major used to go off growling at the appearance of this woman, with her twopenny gentility. He went to sleep under Frederick Bullock's bald head, after dinner, at one of the banker's best parties (Fred was still anxious that the balance of the Osborne property should be transferred from Stumpy and Rowdy's to them), and whilst Amelia, who did not know Latin, or who wrote the last crack article in the Edinburgh, and did not in the least deplore, or otherwise, Mr. Peel's late extraordinary tergiversation on the fatal Catholic Relief Bill, sat dumb amongst the ladies in the grand drawing-room, looking out upon velvet lawns, trim gravel walks, and glistening hot-houses.

"She seems good-natured but insipid," said Mrs. Rowdy; "that Major seems to be particularly epris."

"She wants ton sadly," said Mrs. Hollyock. "My dear creature, you never will be able to form her."

"She is dreadfully ignorant or indifferent," said Mrs. Glowry with a voice as if from the grave, and a sad shake of the head and turban. "I asked her if she thought that it was in 1836, according to Mr. Jowls, or in 1839, according to Mr. Wapshot, that the Pope was to fall: and she said — 'Poor Pope! I hope not — What has he done?'"

"She is my brother's widow, my dear friends," Mrs. Frederick replied, "and as such I think we're all bound to give her every attention and instruction on entering into the world. You may fancy there can be no MERCENARY motives in those whose DISAPPOINTMENTS are well known."

"That poor dear Mrs. Bullock," said Rowdy to Hollyock, as they drove away together — "she is always scheming and managing. She wants Mrs. Osborne's account to be taken from our house to hers — and the way in which she coaxes that boy and makes him sit by that blear-eyed little Rosa is perfectly ridiculous."

"I wish Glowry was choked with her Man of Sin and her Battle of Armageddon," cried the other, and the carriage rolled away over Putney Bridge.

But this sort of society was too cruelly genteel for Emmy, and all jumped for joy when a foreign tour was proposed.

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